The daily grind

It does not seem to get any easier. It truly is a grind. I have a good job, I supervise good people, I work with good people (mostly), it is still a grind though. Why?

The only things that I can come up with is my lack of professional creative outlet and/or autonomy. I am supposedly the company's alpha geek for mapping and GIS, but I rarely have the final say in how my products or the products of my people finally end up.

I am constantly battling with people about color-schemes, font type etc.... I appreciate that they have opinions, because that means that they are engaged in the process, but sometimes, they want me to produce something that is just fundamentally flawed.

For example:

One of the things my company does with our transportation studies are Level of Service maps. "Level of Service" (LOS) is a measure of traffic congestion. They range from A to F, A being the lightest amount of traffic, to F being gridlock. These values are determined using traffic simulation models and fancy-schmancy equations. The people in charge of the modeling and the client typically want us to display the LOS in 3 categories. These categories are A-D (acceptable LOS), E (near failing and unacceptable), and F (failed).

The powers that be (who will remain nameless) always, and I stress ALWAYS, want us to use a very specific color scheme for showing the 3 categories. They always want A-D to be green, E to be yellow, and F to be red. Their justification for this is that "It is just like a traffic signal, everyone knows 'Green means "go,"' 'Yellow means "caution,"' and 'Red means "stop."'" This assertation is intrinsically correct... most people do understand traffic signals and the relative meaning of their colored lights.

The problem arises when one starts to think about people with some kind of visual color deficiency. The primary color deficiency is red-green color blindness, the secondary is red-blue, and the tertiary is yellow-green. So 2 of the top 3 forms of "color-blindness" are represented in their recommended color scheme. Roughly 10% of the male population in the US has some sort of color deficiency and the male population is roughly about 50% of the total US population. That equates into about 5% of the total US population not being able to tell red from green. The reason that they understand traffic signals is position of lights. Top light = red, bottom light = green. When red and green are jumbled all around a page shown on lines that are different lengths and in different orientations (not gay or bi-sexual lines, that would be lines of different "sexual orientation") confusion of the color arises.

This knowledge is something that was stressed to me in my cartographic classes. I do not know how to design an interstate exit, I do not know how long a left turn bay should be, I cannot design a safe structure traveling over rivers, I cannot model future traffic trends.... what I can do and what I have spent an inordinate amount of time studying and training to do is coalesce that information into a map that is understandable by most of the public at large.

Oh well, I guess I am just whiney this morning, and I need more sleep.